I’ve lived in New York for three years and before today, I’d yet to go to Coney Island. I’ve been a baseball fan for well over a decade and before today, I’d never been to a minor league game. I managed to rectify both of those things in one fell swoop.
In a New York-Penn League matchup, the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets Class A Short Season) took on the Vermont Lake Monsters (Athletics Class A Short Season–and what a great name!) at MCU Park on the Coney Island boardwalk. It’s an absolutely beautiful venue, despite–perhaps even enhanced by?–the fact that it was gray and drizzly out.
The starting pitcher for the Cyclones just so happened to be a kid by the name Robert Gsellman, who was a year behind me at the same high school. I didn’t know him personally, but we have mutual friends and it was just a really weird coincidence that he was starting today. It caused me to have something of an existential crisis.
Anyway, his performance on the mound was impressive, as he delivered seven innings of one-run ball (and that run was unearned) while allowing five hits and just one walk, plus striking out five. Apparently he’s been doing quite well all season, posting an ERA of 1.82 and a WHIP of .99 over 10 starts (59.1 IP). That’ll perhaps be someone to watch.
The Cyclones spotted the Lake Monsters three runs in the top of the 8th, causing Brooklyn to momentarily fall behind, but they got all of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning and eventually won 6-4. Since I didn’t have a rooting interest in this game myself, it was nice to see the hometown crowd get their victory.
Baseball is baseball, but it’s really amazing how different the environment is at a minor league park vs. a big league park (and I’m sure the experience further varies amongst minor league ball parks, too). Obviously, the crowd is much smaller in terms of both capacity and attendance, but that makes it much more intimate. The antics put on by the mascots and the various cheer/dance squads between (and sometimes during) innings, based around the loose theme of “Awkward Night,” could be kind of hokey, but I also kind of loved it. Oh, and lest I forget: there was a guy right behind us who seemed to delight in shouting “LET’S GO CYCLOPS” (instead of Cyclones–get it? ha ha!) over and over again, and you just know this guy is doing this all game, every game; I tired of the gimmick quickly, but I do admire the dedication to the bit, at least.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun and I’ll definitely be trying to make it to more minor league games in the future.
Oh, and for good measure, here’s an obligatory picture of me with the statue of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson (which, fortunately, appears to have been cleaned of this filth):